Making Money and How to Get Press Samples
These aren’t exactly my favorite topics to talk about, because I think that focusing on them can undermine the genuine passion and effort that a lot of beauty bloggers put into their blogs, but they are certainly important pieces of a larger puzzle. If it’s something you want to do full-time, it has to be a viable full-time job, which means you do need to earn money. There are also expenses like products, equipment, hosting, and technical expertise.
Monetizing Your Blog
Display Advertising: When you just start out, I fully recommend Google AdSense. It’s free, easy to implement, and proven. If you’re outside of the U.S./Canada, AdSense may not be as viable. Since I’m not familiar with what networks may serve your specific region or country, you might want to google something like “AdSense alternatives for [your country].” We continue to use AdSense to backfill any unsold inventory. After you’ve built up your audience, you can consider joining one of the many advertising networks that exist, which usually have minimum requirements (usually in impressions, pageviews, or visitors). A few networks to look into: Glam, Style Coalition, and Total Beauty. My experience is primarily with Glam, as we have been using them for three or four years now. Networks are middlemen, just like AdSense is, that sell your inventory to advertisers, and they will take a cut.
Sponsored Content: Sponsored content is usually when an advertiser gets involved with some other piece of the blog that isn’t the traditional advertising units (banners) that you see on a blog/website. Brands can and have sponsored anything and everything, so it’s up to you where you want to go with that. I will caution all on sponsored reviews, which is a sensitive subject. Depending on your readers, they may be more or less receptive or skeptical of sponsored reviews. For us, we have determined that that’s an area we aren’t going to go into. We do, however, write sponsored editorials (e.g. “what makes for a great girl’s night out?”) as well as advertorials (content that is written and supplied by the advertiser), and sometimes we have sponsored contests (many of our contest prizes are bought and provided by Temptalia but not all). Sponsored content often pays at a much higher rate than regular ads.
Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is usually in the form of links. This means that when I link you to a product at a retailer, I might use an affiliate link. When you click on that link and actually buy something, I get a commission. This commission, for the record, is usually 3-5% of the purchase price (to put it in perspective, a $20 lipstick yields $0.60 in commission). Most retailers belong to an affiliate network, but not all do, and some networks are more exclusive than others. Here are a few to consider: Commission Junction, Google Affiliate Network, and Linkshare.
Keep Track of Your Expenses: Part of monetizing your blog is also keeping your expenses down or knowing what they are. If and when you start making some money from your blog, you may be able to take some deductions (check with your CPA!).
How to Get Press Samples
Obtaining press samples is a bit of an art form. It’s not a gimme–and it’s not guaranteed at all for any blogger. We have great relationships with some brands, but other brands are nearly impossible to get samples from. There are still a few brands who categorically refuse to send samples to non-print media. Brands often receive 100-200 pieces of a product, and this is supposed to cover print and digital media. This is why it can be difficult to get samples of a whole collection or a certain shade, and why it can differ dramatically from brand to brand (some get 500 pieces, some might get 50 or less).
How big or small your blog is often a factor in whether or not a brand can justify sending you one of the samples they have; and it doesn’t mean all small blogs are ignored, because genuine passion, good writing, an engaged audience, etc. are all important, too. Someone who is a devoted follower of the brand but may have a small audience may be just as important to the brand as a large blog who barely covers them. Share your stats with pride (because you’ve worked hard!), and be sure to share metrics like pageviews, unique visitors, and visits.
Brands are interested in blogs and bloggers, and when it makes sense to, they’ll definitely do what they can to get product to the person. It’s a good idea to focus on working with brands that you already know and love; ones that you regularly purchase from, ones you’ve covered extensively in the past. It’s a great place to start the relationship from. You can begin your relationship by introducing yourself, sharing links to previous reviews/posts you’ve done about the brand, and ask if they have a media list for new product launches/press releases. Remember, you didn’t start your blog for freebies–there’s no need to send a laundry list of products you’d like them to send over. If you’ve asked for a sample and have been denied, don’t take it personally. Use it as motivation to keep building up your blog so the next time you ask, there’s no way for them to say no! 🙂
Series over! For now, at least! Hope you found it helpful 🙂